Grand Jury transcripts unsealed in case of child’s death revealing physical and sexual abuse

Noah Cuatro, 4, of Palmdale, California.

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Last summer, 4-year-old Noah Cuatro allegedly drowned in the pool at his parent's apartment complex in Palmdale, California.  That story though, didn't take long to crumble as the medical examiner not only noted that his hair was dry, but also indicated that there was no sign of water in his lungs.

 

Noah died on July 5, 2019 and on September 26th his parents, 28-year-old Jose Maria Cuatro and 26-year-old Ursula Elaine Juarez were arrested and both charged with murder and torture. Initial charges against the couple included an additional charge against Cuatro of assault on a child causing death and for Juarez, child abuse resulting in death.

 

The couple pleaded not guilty to these charges in early January.

Jose Maria Cuatro Jr., 28, and Ursula Elaine Juarez, 26, of Palmdale, California. [Image Credit: Telemundo 52]
The Grand Jury proceedings occurred later in January and returned charges of murder and torture against both parents.  Cuatro additionally faces one count of assault on a child causing death and sexual penetration with a child under the age of 10.  Juarez faces one additional count of child abuse under circumstances likely to cause death. These charges superseded those that had been filed earlier.

 

Their arraignment on these charges is scheduled for September 24th at which time their trial will also be scheduled.

 

The unsealing of the grand jury transcript on August 14th revealed what was going on in Noah's life when he died.  Not only was it revealed that his mother had sent a text message stating, "Almost killed him so many times I had to do CPR for him to wake up and stay alive right," but it was also revealed that Cuatro evidently believed that Noah was not his biological child so targeted him for abuse.

 

A DNA test conducted by medical examiner determined that Noah was in fact his biological son.

 

According to the autopsy, it was determined that Noah died from asphyxiation and blunt force trauma.  There were fractures to his ribs which were in various stages of healing, a previous laceration to his liver, and even sexual assault trauma clearly evident.

 

ABC 7 reports that within the first year of Noah's life, he and his siblings were placed in foster care. He was returned to his parents only to be removed again, spending years in the care of his great-grandmother.

 

Several weeks before Noah's death, a judge had once again approved a removal order through the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services but according to the testimony of Susan Johnson, her supervisor overruled the court order and even removed her from the case.

 

KNBC reports that a policy change has been enacted as a result of the handling of Noah's case.  Now anyone attempting to counter a removal order must meet with the head of the DCFS.  Since the policy change the director has not approved overturning any removal order.

 

The policy change may be too little too late though,  as Noah's great-grandmother Evangelina Hernandez filed a wrongful death suit in the Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of herself and Noah's three siblings.

 

The Antelope Valley Press states that the suit alleges that Hernandez was threatened by DCFS that if she filed suit, she would lose her request to obtain guardianship of her three great-grandchildren.

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